Suspects in wildlife trade case vanish
A Chinese and an Indian national arrested with four other suspects in connection with illegal trade and possession of wild life products, worth N$598 000, are nowhere to be found.
Despite a warrant of arrest that was issued on July 26 against Chinese national Sha Zhiweii and his Indian co-accused, Rajaiyah Kumar, to date there is no sign of them.
The accused in the case of illegal trade and possession of wildlife products include Chinese national Hou Xue Cheng, George Mashala, 24, Sha Zhiweii, 27, Rajaiyah Kumar and Namibian Hamutenya Hamutenya, 34.
Only three of the five accused showed up in the Katutura Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
Of the three only Cheng had an attorney present; the other two had no legal representation.
When Magistrate Ileni Tungweni Velikoshi enquired as why the two accused had no legal representation. “I have never met him,” said Mashala, adding that he was at attorney Fanie Diedricks’ office, but was informed by his secretary that Diedricks was not going to be in court for the day.
Accused Hamutenya informed the court that even though he has paid the due amount of N$400 dollars, he never got an attorney assigned to his case.
“I was informed by Legal Aid that they are busy now with administration work,” explained Hamutenya.
Chinese suspect Cheng was represented by attorney Kadhila Amoomo.
It is alleged the five accused were found in possession of seven zebra skins valued at N$99 400, 1 leopard skin valued at N$212 300, one raw pangolin skin and 41 crocodile leather skins valued at N$287 000. Altogether the wildlife products were worth close to N$600 000.
It is alleged that in October 2014 they acquired controlled wildlife products at an unknown area within the Windhoek district. According to the police file charge, the accused received and acquired wildlife goods from a man, named Seston Shikuyele, under the pretence they were goods for the store he owns.
The accused maintain they had no knowledge that the parcel contained illegal wildlife products. However, it is alleged they had intentions to sell the goods.
Magistrate Velikoshi on Friday postponed their case to February 17, 2017 for the fixing a trial date.
Cheng, Mashala and Hamutenya have all been out on bail, which was extended until their next trial date.
The State was represented by Georgitte Kathja Losper.